Are Ego-centrism and Selfishness the True Causes of Depression and Suicide Attempts?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Depression prevents one from being himself or herself.

Optimistic, giving, loving people will turn inward and may on the surface seem selfish. Truth is, from what I have seen, the true nature of a person is not changed when they struggle with even severe depression.

This explains in part why some suicides are shockingly surprising. A funny person’s humor, or a caring person’s compassion may continue, albeit with less fervor and energy, despite growing despair. At my worst point, a fellow member of a therapy group said it seemed as if I could laugh easily.  I am naturally energized by people. In the moment perhaps that showed. What she could not see was the cavern of emptiness on the inside.

It is a symptom

The point of this is that a generally less self-absorbed person in emotional distress may become ego-centric.  A typically ego-centric person may express exaggerated selfishness.  That is depression at work. 

Thinking excessively about oneself, seeming to ignore everyone else, interpreting what others say in negative ways, or demanding attention are a few of the ways people in depression may act.  It is ego-centrism, no doubt. It is also a symptom of the condition.

Suicide attempts

Suicide attempts are definitely a cry for help... unless they are not!  That is why it is important to take each one seriously. Many sufferers actually try to die, and survive for myriad reasons. 

The accusation that such a person was “only looking for attention” is one of the most – forgive me – ignorant responses. Obviously, one who attempts suicide needs attention, and lots of it!  Thank God if even multiple attempts are cries for help.  Perhaps the only way this person knows how to make anyone listen is by creating distress.  One who never receives that attention may go on to suffer longer and more deeply.  Or die. 

Respond with patience

Frankly, recovering from depression requires hard work. While it is ultimately not healthy to remain self-absorbed, ego-centrism may hang around for an extended time. Taking one tiny step, then two, then three may take all the self-focus and energy one can muster.

And that’s ok. Pushing too hard can make hopelessness worse.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 15:5

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*pics by  COBRASOFT of rgbstock.com

 

Suicide Prevention – What NOT to Say or Do

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Attention:  (If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I recommend you not read this particular article. Instead, go to a survivors of suicide support site.)

If you are reading this because you want to know the best possible ways to prevent suicide, you are not alone. Many family members and friends, if not most, who find that a loved one has fallen into a deep pit of despair, try their best to help.  Love is not the only solution, however.  Stigma guides most people instead of facts.  For that reason, I am glad you are here.

Suicide prevention is a recurring theme at Always The Fight Ministries. After seven years, my point of view on suicide prevention has not changed. We prevent attempts and deaths by increasing effective support for those who hurt. The key to providing effective support is knowledge.  

This is Suicide Prevention Month in the U.S.A.  Suicide is scary as a topic and reality.  Fear can lead us to a thirst for knowledge, or we may hide, or try to make difficulties disappear by using anger.  Here are some of the UNhelpful reactions to severe depression and suicide that I have witnessed or heard, or heard about.   

What to Avoid:  Vitriol, Distance, Distrust, and Bewilderment 

Vitriol

A suicidal person asked a family member to dole out their sleeping pills for safety reasons. Instead, the family member placed the full bottle on the night stand next to the one who was struggling to stay alive.   

“Why save lives? If someone wants to die, why not let him kill himself and decrease the surplus population?” 

“[He] was weak. With all that money, he could have got help. He was totally selfish.”

Distance 

“It is none of our business.”

“Don’t you play the suicide card with me!”

“I don’t know what to say or do.  I’ll leave him alone – he needs his space.”

“If I mention suicide,  I might push her toward it. We won’t talk about it.”

Distrust 

“If someone can hurt himself or herself,  he or she must be capable of violence. This same person might “snap at any time”  and harm someone else!”   [I cannot count how many times I have heard this misinformation.] 

“I do not believe in mental health disability. I just don’t!”

“Depression is not an illness. It is just self-pity.”

“Suicidal thinking is caused only by demons that have to be cast out. Then the person is fine.”

“People who attempt suicide and don’t die, didn’t mean it. They just want attention.”

Bewilderment

One spouse pleaded and shouted in frustration because her husband was hiding in a closet, too depressed to face the world. 

“How can I fix my depressed husband?”

“She attempted so many times, it’s just manipulation.”

Misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the facts are the basis for the above reactions and comments.  For helpful reactions that go a long way toward prevention of suicide, click here.

Today’s Helpful Word

Job 16:

“I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”  – Job speaking to his friends while he is suffering

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*speech bubble by STARISOB of rgbstock.com; two woman from kozzi.com

 

My Response to “The Sins of Psychotherapism” by Bruce Davidson, PsychoHeresy Ministries.

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

The Sins of Psychotherapism by Bruce Davidson of PsychoHeresy Ministries, is an opinion piece (link is below) outlining serious charges against the world of psychological study and therapists who work within it.  I respect Davidson for his thoughtful work,  and his efforts and desire to help people. We just disagree. This blog is my answer to his claims.

Terminology matters

About 2 years ago, a LinkedIn self-described BIble teacher, began to call me names and undermine my character simply because of my terminology. Yes, he was rude, but was he right?

He made an assumption about me, whom he had never met, based on my ministry title of “advocate.” That is,  because I advocate for recovery, he thought I was steering people away from the message of repentance.

My point at the time was that “recovery” is a process. Repentance may stop a behavior, but even if your problem is not addiction, recovery is involved. God gives us insight into who he is so we can turn to him and repent of sin. After that, changing how we think takes time. Isaiah 1:16,17 supports this concept of the recovery process. “…Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right.”

Terminology matters, however readers and writers alike must know what words mean. In the world of stigma, some words are defined in black and white instead of in the open concept they deserve.

Motives are not worn on our sleeves

Today, I stumbled across the Davidson article. He is strong on a few points as he takes flawed psychological notions to task. I noticed however, that he claims psychotherapy promotes false assumptions. He writes, “Furthermore, psychotherapism has encouraged the trend of judging people’s motives and speculating on their secret thoughts rather than looking at their explicit views and outward behavior.”

I believe his article does just that – judges people’s motives and speculates. Anytime a ministry is formed around shouldn’ts, there will be problems. For example, he builds his arguments against the historic roots of modern psychotherapy “instituted by Freud, Jung, and others.” He seems to completely disregard current fields of study that oppose those original theories and styles.

The traditional idea of psychotherapy is the patient lying on a couch and talking on and on while the therapist says little to nothing. I am in full agreement this is likely not going to get the job done. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy do not look like that old model.

Personally, my life changed when CBT taught me it was possible to think differently.  It helped to renew my mind by challenging old thought patterns. Eventually, my eyes opened to God’s love and to many false beliefs about the world and how to fit in it.  I learned how to take thoughts captive as taught in 2 Corinthians 10:5.*

No one preached at me, or forced a greater faith. Instead, because my goal was already to honor God, and I was Biblically literate, talk therapy served as a catalyst for applying Biblical truth.  With a broad sweep, Davidson and others who agree with his assertions,  shove talk therapy into the trash. They do not know me (or you) or how God wants to work in our  lives.  Hence, miscalculation of their assumptions.

Not everything fits in one box

Davidson used this quote as partial evidence for his point. “In One Nation Under Therapy, Satel and Hoff-Sommers define [psychotherapy] as ‘pathologizing normal human emotion, promoting the illusion that we are very fragile beings, and urging grand emotional displays as the prescription for coping.’ To that they add the belief that ‘psychology can and should take the place of ethics and religion.'”

Let’s be clear. Not all psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists have pulled their own heads out of the ground. Some have twisted beliefs, others have twisted personalities. Unfortunately, not all professionals are “professional.”

In my years of seeking mental healthcare, with some success and some not-so-great experiences, not once has any provider encouraged fragility or “grand emotional displays.”  On the contrary, they taught strength and mood control.

I learned that hiding emotion kills people, not that every emotion needs expression. It makes little sense to refuse an entire field of study because of the wrong or misguided ideas of some. Plenty of both secular and Christian therapists help clients uncover root issues, that if left unfaced, would continue to steer their lives toward self-destruction.

We make choices

It is the responsibility of both client and provider in any realm of interaction, to submit to or ignore God’s wisdom. The world-at-large will choose to ignore. If you are a Christian, and struggling with your thoughts and emotions, wise counsel is part of what the Great Physician prescribes.  Proverbs 12: 6, 15, 18  tell us the value of such advice.  “… the speech of the upright rescues… the wise listen to advice… the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Davidson’s statement that focusing on childhood wounds “naturally” breeds resentment of one’s parents, is flat-out wrong. Like people who choose to abuse, we choose to resent or not.  Awareness of childhood wounds and the roles of all concerned brings closure. I could begin to forgive others and myself, directly due to taking the time to understand.

Davidson claims pastors have turned from preaching salvation to extolling self-realization. If the definition is as Webster’s says, “fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality” (italics mine), then yes, it can be a prideful endeavor. None of us is capable as fallible beings to wholly fulfill anything without God or even human support.

What I suggest Davidson does not seem to appreciate is that lack of self-awareness is the cornerstone of denial. When our identity is lost in the temporal, we cannot live the life God has planned for us. Introspection unveils poisonous roots, God’s Word casts light where understanding is dark.  By teaching our possibilities under God’s authority, pastors can help us realize lives of purpose that bring God honor.

The 10-letter four-letter word

As for “self-esteem,” that word so demeaned in some Christian circles, I believe lack of it undermines appreciation of God’s glory. If I feel less-than, what does my testimony say about God’s creative power? No, my view of self-worth does not change the Great I AM.  By learning to fully appreciate God’s design choices, I have confidence to credit him without drawing attention to myself.

I do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  Common terms familiar to the study of human behavior, such as recovery and self, among others, are useful and meaningful when applied with truth and understanding of how they can work in real-life application. To refuse to accept them at all, we spread the stigma that treatment is bad. Sick people stay sick, and despairing people die.

Terms, motives, choices… Let me know what you think.  Read Davidson’s entire article at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/07/the_sins_of_psychotherapism.html

 

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 1:5 

“…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

* 2 Corinthians 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

What is the Eternal Fate of One Who Dies By Suicide?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In a church two years ago, after sharing my story of recovery after a suicide attempt and discussing major depression,  a member approached and said, “Suicide sends people to hell because it is a sin, and there is no time to repent.”  This sentiment was once more prevalent.  Most often today, surviving loved ones and pastors talk about God’s mercy and understanding.

I am asked frequently whether people who die this way go to heaven. It is not my intention to cop-out  and avoid this important discussion. Nevertheless,  I would rather ask a different question.

Who is God?

God is Holy.  This means that in him there are no sin, wrongful motives, evil thoughts, or anything of the like.  Our mockery and disbelief prevent us from knowing him, they do not diminish his holiness.

We are to reverently serve him because he IS. In him we move and breathe and have our being.  He merely spoke and the world began.  Let us stand in awe of him!

This is not to say he is angry and vengeful.  On the contrary, his nature is love and goodness. Relying on him, on his unfailing love, is to know blessings of peace and joy, even in times of pain. However he is just, and does respond to evil with judgment.

Like a child who wants to copy daddy,  we begin to mimic our Father God when we trust him and learn to obey his instructions. Looking elsewhere for the value, mercy, love, freedom, and rescue that only God can provide is not only foolish, but sin. It hurts him, others, and ourselves.

This is not to say that one who fails to measure up to God’s high standards is doomed. On the contrary! God knows who he created. You and I are not lost on him. He saw every one of our days before one of them happened and made us anyway. That is love! His promise of eternal life with him is for any who will accept salvation offered through his Son Jesus. In other words, he made a way out.

Spiritual lostness has a solution

It is simple and free. The famous line that often showed up on T-shirts or signs at football games, “John 3:16”, refers to a quote by Jesus .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

In four basic parts, it says: (a) the world, that’s you and me and everyone who has ever lived, exists on purpose; (b) God loves the world;  (c) God sees we are lost, floundering away from him and his love, and sends a solution – Jesus. Jesus is God’s only monogenes, or one-of-a-kind, (note the capital S), Son.  He too is holy. His was the only sinless life, so his is the only life that can serve as our Savior; and (d) the reason for all this drama is so the world may live with God apart from the evils and disappointments of this life forever!

Once again, that is not to say we cannot reject the gift. Most do. Consequences are pain and death, if not for the present, then in the future. Yet preferring the instant to the real, people pursue false gods.  These are things, activities, or people we place ahead of God as our authority, and source of strength and satisfaction.

False gods will never serve us well because the very fallible humans who want to depend on them, are their designers. Mistaken, self-serving god-makers will never produce any object of worship that rises above themselves. We do not follow false gods because we love them – we worship false gods because we love ourselves (and not in a good way).

Sin is what separates us from God, not pain

One’s relationship with God through Jesus is personal and close when nurtured by repentance, love for him, and time spent with him.  God is close to the needy, the brokenhearted, and the oppressed. By following his way we are never alone whether we hurt physically or emotionally, or in any other form.

Does God condemn forever people who die by suicide? Once again, my opinion does not matter. The Bible is very clear that what causes unbelievers to perish for eternity is rejection of Christ. Refusal to have faith at all – not believing God exists – is the first part, and denying the Son as our source of salvation is the second.

As for people who follow Jesus, closely even, and die by suicide – did they reject Christ? It is not sinful to suffer. No one is cast aside by God for having uncomfortable emotions.

Unbelief is not defined strictly by actions, but mostly by the heart. In pain, to whom does one cry out? If a mind is overwhelmed, is it possible the heart is still faithful?

Your answer lies in learning to know the God of the Bible. I know where I stand for eternity, and I know what he asks of me. Do you? 

Let’s make no mistake!

Regardless one’s eternal destiny, suicide is not the type of death or legacy that brings honor to God’s name. Those left experience damage, and feel angry, sorrowful, and wrenched with a lifetime of the question why.  Copycat suicides are common. The one who died by suicide is remembered and celebrated always with an asterisk of doubt.  But… he killed himself. But… she left me.  But… I wasn’t enough to save my loved one.  But… why didn’t God stop it?

The legacy of finding help and utilizing all the offered resources is one of inspiration and hope. The fight is worth it. Knowledge is invaluable.  Understanding how depression works is life-saving.  We have options for survival.

God sees. God knows. God loves.

Today’s Helpful Word(s)

You will find the sources of many of this blog’s quotes and references to Biblical truth in the following passages: 

John 3;  Psalm 33;  Hebrews 11:5-6;  Psalm 1;  2 Corinthians 5;  1 Corinthians  1;  Acts 17:28; Psalm 139;  Psalm 34:18

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

He Did Not Know How to Stay Alive

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

TRIGGER ALERT – This article discusses a recent suicide

Two weeks ago, a pastor died by suicide. People first noticed his struggle with anxiety and depression (which often come as a pair) in April, and the church board gave him a four-month sabbatical.

After a breakdown, the same denial that led us to keep pushing through difficult emotions in the first place,  is there to push us out of them in a hurry. We desperately want to be well and meet our obligations.  We want to feel normal. Others around us feel better when we are well, too.  We move too fast.

This pastor pushed himself to death.   ‘I’m OK. I can keep going,’ he said.  I do not have details. Did he suffer from delusions?  Did he momentarily lose touch with reality? Or did he come to believe everyone is better off without him? Listen to his introduction in his last sermon. This young man needed much more time to get well.

I love that he  tried to raise up other people,  but intimately understand how he missed the point with regard to his own health.  I’ve been there!  I hope no one is condemning him, because he was actually trying his best.

Hear how much he wanted to stay alive. Depression and anxiety stole his ability to do that. There had not been enough time, enough counseling, to reach the core of his needs.  One can question for infinity his mindset, yet I know he did not know how to survive what was happening to him. If he had known, he would be here.

Mental illness deserves understanding, mercy, grace, and patience. It is no one’s fault he died. May God bless his family and church. There are many broken hearts.

A man commented on an article following this pastor’s suicide:

I have read the comments, and feel compelled to respond. I have been a pastor of 32 years who has ministered to many people dealing with depression and anxiety. But, I must confess that I never really understood depression until my wife suffered through suicidal depression for 3 years. What people need to understand about depression is that people with severe depression struggle to think rationally and logically. One of the comments below was about someone kicking his butt & telling him how selfish he was. In other words, someone just needed to talk some sense into him. Depression doesn’t defer to rational thought! My suicidal Christian wife actually believed she would be helping our young boys by taking her life. She convinced herself that she was causing undue harm to them. Yes, suicide is a selfish act. However, that is the core issue of depression. You are stuck in an isolated, self-absorbed world of darkness and despair so deep that suicide literally seems like the only logical option… 

I hope you will listen to the deceased pastor’s last sermon, if you can do so safely.  He has much to teach us.  If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-231-TALK, or call 911. Then follow the process to get well. Don’t rush, give God time to renew your mind.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 2:2

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Delicious and Deadly: Cycles of Self-Defeat and God’s Solution

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

After searching the store for turkey roast, my son, who was with me,  finally found one.  Yesterday, I threw it, various vegetables, and some cream of chicken into my crock pot.  Almost everything but the soup was frozen. 

On the low setting, I allowed it all to cook for 10 hours. This is a no-brainer. Dozens of times I have cooked frozen ingredients on low for long periods, both in the crock pot and in the oven.   It always works, and everything is tender. 

No one in 37 years of home cooking has become sick on my food. (That is not to say my boys did not hate spinach when they were little!) However, after chilling the turkey stew in the refrigerator for 2 hours, I ate a bowlful and was sorry very quickly.

I have no idea what, if anything, I did wrong. Possibly the ingredients were already bad, and in their frozen state I could not tell. This one thing I do know – it was delicious and deadly.  (I am ok, by the way.)

Pacifiers are delicious

This stew is not the only time something delicious has been deadly in my life.  By “delicious” I am describing temptations of any kind.  In our humanness, we feel needs and wants. From a distance the solutions we choose appear delightful. 

For example, some of us live with a giant hole in our psyche left there by neglect, abandonment, rejection, abuse, or any type of lack of nurture.  That is hard, and learning to deal with it can lead to many tempting forms of relief. 

You know what they are – substances, food, sex, workaholism, co-dependencies … the list is endless. Chosen pacifiers that we come to believe we must have to survive, unfortunately are many times delicious, and emotionally, spiritually, and even physically deadly. 

Letting go of the temporary for the permanent

I am not going to sidestep what is of the essence with this issue. We are, (I too many, many times) trying to lean on toppling fences.  Because we see them and understand their power of relief, we assume they can hold us up.  Then comes the day that they do not. 

This week, I had to let one such pacifier go.  It was interfering with my ability (oh let’s be honest – my willingness) to trust Jesus in all situations. This dependency has served as a false god,  idol worship if you will.  It seemed easier and more substantial to run to it than to lean on the solid fence of God’s unchanging good (holy, love) nature. 

I feel freer, less burdened.

The good question to ask is, what have any of us gained by returning to those wobbly fences? The answer is pain, exhaustion, confusion, sorrow, and threats of death  because fake gods, or temporary pacifiers, will let us down.  Yuck.  Still, like a yo-yo I kept spinning back to this specific “solution”  as if the result would be different after a while. Insane. 

It makes much more sense to rely on God’s unfailing love, and the eternal salvation offered through faith in Jesus. This week, my emotions, mentality, and even physicality are taking on the challenge of letting go. It is rough, but I am full of praise for the loving arms of Jesus who has never let me fall without lifting me in his compassionate love and meeting every need. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Jeremiah 4 :1,2

 “… says the Lord, if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols  and stray away no more. Then when you swear by my name, saying,  ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ you could do so  with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing …”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*pics by ALEXBRUDA of rgbstock.com

 

 

Strong Support is Simple: Be There for Your Friend

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Importance of strong supports cannot be over emphasized.  

Neither can your value as such a support.

If you have a friend, co-worker, family member, or even an acquaintance who struggles with depression, you have  opportunity to play a vital role.

There are posts on this website that offer practical ideas on how to be effective and helpful. I am not going to repeat all that today. There is one point in two sentences I am asking you to hear:

The most valuable gift you can offer is sincere, non-critical acceptance. 

The best means of giving this, is through your presence. 

People suffering with depression, especially severe depression, already know they are not living the life they want and that you want for them. Criticizing or in any way implying they are failing somehow to measure up, heaps fuel on that flame.  Maybe there is a time for that type of lecture – I do not know – but in the middle of a major depressive episode is not it. 

Neither is that when to ignore people and give them their “space.” In depression, a person is feeling unworthy. This is why you may perceive his or her withdrawal as a lack of enthusiasm for you.  In fact, it is much more likely that every fiber of your loved one’s  being is crying out for you to show you care.   

In essence, the finest, kindest, simplest act of meaningful support you can give is two-fold. (1)To listen, without teaching or offering advice. (2) To express that the one with depression is worth your time. 

Your presence does not have to be physical.  If you do not live in the same house, smaller gestures are more sustainable and you are more likely to repeat them. Texts, emails, instagram, Facebook, snail mail, phone calls… these are some options that are very valuable in the moment.  

Personal visits are nice as long as you do not go expecting to “fix” anyone. Be pleasant, avoid criticizing, and let the person know you are there. You may even sit in non-judgmental silence.  

If I could pull one common sentence out of the mouths of everyone I have met who was currently  fighting depression, it would be this. “No one gets it.” 

Here is your chance to get it. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians 5:1,2

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*jetty supports by TACLUDA; old bridge in Wales by MICROMOTH, both of rgbstock.com

“Help, Church Leaders Don’t Want Me to Divorce Husband with Porn Addiction”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In April, the following message came using the contact form on this website. (printed by permission)

“Thanks. Your articles were helpful. My Google search that led to your page was – ‘help church leaders don’t want me to divorce husband with porn addiction’.  We separated, with the elders wanting that time to be for us to work towards reconciliation. I still see abusive attitudes that are so tied up in the porn use. They see [his] tears and ‘repentance’. They haven’t spent time with me or the kids – only him. The emotional abuse is so HEAVY. That is what I feel most compelled to run from – someone who plays the victim while he is abusing himself, his wife, kids, and those used to make the content he has indulged in. I think this is the part where wives and kids need help – after YEARS/DECADES of this cycle (sin comes to light/tears and repentance and new accountability partners/ etc.) – when is it finally enough? Their argument is that he seems genuine this time – so who am I to not give him another year? These guys haven’t even chatted with me. That happens too often. And if we say, “but that seems unsafe to me” – we are told we’re being unsubmissive. I wonder how many people have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse. I hope you are able to help others still love God and trust Him, but navigate through these murky waters. Thanks again.”

The writer’s articulate description of the cycle of cheap grace hopefully draws you in, dear reader. Perhaps you’ve lived it, or are seeing her point of view for the first time. 

Cheap grace 

1) Sin comes to light. 

2) Tears and repentance

3)New accountability partners

4) Sin continues

This wife’s story draws tears to my eyes because she, her children, other watching families, and the testimony of Christ are twice hurt.  Both the husband’s sins and the church’s short-sighted response to pornography in Christian families have emptied grace of its beauty and power.  Along with her, I ask, when is it finally enough? How many observers have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse?

Here’s the thing, dear reader.  In my experience, most believers and followers of Christ want to do what is right. There will always be power-hungry leaders among us, however they are relatively few. The rest of us make these mistakes based on lack of knowledge. 

Christ’s grace

1) We all sin and fall short of God’s holy nature (Romans 3:23)

2) People return to sin like a dog returns to its vomit  (2 Peter 2:21-22)

3) Our “righteousness” is as pure as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

4) Enter Jesus. He lives the life we cannot – one without sin (Hebrews 4:15)

5) He pays the blood-price for our forgiveness (1 John 1:7)

6) We confess our sins and turn away from them with his strength (Romans 8:5-9)

7) We become more and more like him, loving others as he did (Philippians 2:5)

8) In marriages, we lay down our selfish ambitions and pursue loving each other as Christ loved his church, and gave himself for her, submitting to each other as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-21)

Where does adultery, lust, and addiction fit in this picture? Where is the false repentance (that is actually only remorse) in God’s story? Did not Esau sell his soul for a pot of porridge? And though he begged for forgiveness with tears, he could not receive it. That is because his tears were remorseful, not repentant. (Hebrews 12:15-17)

True repentance is observable

Repentance accompanies  deep, honest and humble confession,  true understanding of the pain one has caused others and God,  long-lasting change (with the family as the star witness, not tears),  continuous humility,  and a blame-the-victim, blame-society, and blame-God ceasefire. By the way,  “I can’t help it” is blaming God. 

Cheap grace sounds as the wife in this story describes it (Romans 6:1-3).  When is enough?  In my opinion, it is easier to accept someone’s tears than to do the hard work of exploring their heart. At the very least,  I wish her church leaders would chat with her and the children!

There are common misunderstandings

  • Forgiveness and trust are confused
  • Submission as unto the Lord is diminished into enabling and endorsing sin
  • Separation and divorce are equaled with remarriage
  • We are unwilling to do as God did – allow divorce due to the hardness of mens’ hearts
  • There is little concept of the connection between porn and adultery, or porn and abuse
  • There is little respect for the death sentence emotional abuse hands down to victims 
  • Legalism trumps holiness. 

Thank you for reading today’s blog, and I pray you are encouraged by the truth written here. Let’s do our best to understand wisdom, and to love these families harmed so deeply by pornography.

Related Posts:  Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse pt 1, pt 2;   Series on Emotional Abuse in Christian Marriages pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4, pt 5and An Open Letter About Porn to Christian Husbands, Pastors, and Husbands-to-be

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*help sign and typing pic from kozzi.com

“I Gave Up and It Saved My Life”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

 

People who have never experienced suicidal thoughts or at least have not seriously considered suicide, often think of it as giving up. They see suicide attempts as attention-seeking and death by suicide as weakness of character.

If you have contemplated, planned, or attempted ending your life, you know they are wrong. By the time suicide has become a plausible option in our thinking, we have already fought long and hard, and failed to find a workable solution. With suicidal thinking comes a deep sense of worthlessness or lack of purpose. We often feel that others we love will be better off if we are gone. 

At this point, suicidal persons are not “giving up”. Quite the contrary, it can seem as if suicide is doing something positive – even the right thing. While killing oneself is never either of those, the suicidal mindset cannot understand options.  Clearly, help is needed to escape this deep pit.

Again, some who cannot relate will call this self-pity and expect us to shake it off. However, suicidal thinking goes far beyond self-pity. It is not normal. People in their right minds can find healthier perspectives. By the time suicidal focus infiltrates our sense of reason, there is an underlying mental health challenge at play – most likely severe depression.  

There is a place though, at which giving up did enter the picture before my suicide attempt seven and a half years ago.  It happened three months earlier.

For thirty years I had placed my hope, and sense of value, on my husband. I spoke in “we,” rarely “I”. My identity was as Mrs., not Nancy. One could say I had little sense of me. 

One day, all the excuses I had made fell apart. Fake light I’d shined on our relationship went permanently dark. Truth hit hard. From that point it was, in my opinion looking back, a matter of time before all reason for living was lost. 

That is because I gave up. Hear me now, I did not give up on life! Quite the opposite. I looked for mental health care, and fought valiantly against growing despair.

What I gave up was hope.  

Decades of hope in a single temporal and fallible source of love left me with nowhere else to look. I did not know how to use a healthy support system.  My understanding of God’s love remained skewed since childhood.  Instead of discovering the wisdom of these relationships, I had poured energy into a chasm of few returns.   

Once hope was gone, survival seemed the right choice, yet there was little motive left.  This is how giving up ultimately saved my life. 

The suicide attempt was not the catalyst to health. Suicide attempts are never the answer. Once medications and therapy raised me to more reasonable thought processes,  the attempt did force me to acknowledge that how I’d been doing life was not working. Anytime we can come to that conclusion without a life or death crisis is great! 

Finally,  there was no other choice but to look elsewhere for hope. That long exploration led me to safe and healthy friendships,  a new sense of purpose,  a sense of value, and to a deeper understanding of God’s endless love.  Leaving make-believe behind, my heart found a permanent home. 

Yes, I gave up on false hope,  and that saved my life.  

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33: 18-20 (Amplified Bible)

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him [and worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and obedience], On those who hope [confidently] in His compassion and lovingkindness, To rescue their lives from death And keep them alive in famine. We wait [expectantly] for the LordHe is our help and our shield.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*no through road by TACLUDA ;  shadow by RWLINDER, both on rgbstock.com

 

Flashbacks Triggered by Catholic Church Scandals: How to React with Compassion to PTSD

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Emily* was ill. Mentally and physically exhausted, much of her time at Timberline Knolls Rehabilitation Treatment Center was spent asleep or curled up on a couch in the lounge. On those occasions she did rise, her efforts at connection and function were heroic.

One afternoon,  she and I were the first to arrive at a large group therapy room.  No one in a rehab is at their best, obviously. However, conversation was cordial and sedate.

Suddenly, Emily threw herself into a huge bear hug and buried her head. She began rocking back and forth. Soon, she had turned her back to the room, trying to hide from the danger, pain, terror, and false-guilt that accompanied her flashback.

No doubt in her thoughts she was a child again, feeling all the sensations of abuse. Her momentary reality was darkness, a hand reaching through the black, her survival threatened.

Sitting next to her I began to whisper. “Emily, it is ok now. You are safe. You are at Timberline Knolls. People care about you here. Your head is on a fireplace hearth, your body is on carpet. No one is hurting you. Girls who care about you are all around. You are not alone. You are safe here.”

Continuing along those lines for a few minutes, eventually Emily started to come out of it. When her horrible flashback ended, she was quiet, yet present.

What you can do 

With all the news in the last week about sexual abuse in the Catholic church,  PTSD is affecting many men, women, and children. Not only victims of that scandal are suffering.  Any previous victims of sexual or other kinds of abuse may find normal days interupted.  They see or hear the news, and Bam! Unwillingly, they are tossed back to a time and place they long to forget. 

You may witness this. Please do not tell a person experiencing a flashback to shake it off or just give it to God. Instead, express your care and love, and help them refocus on the here and now. One way to do that is to start describing the room you are both in and the people who are there.  Offer assurance they are safe.

Knee-jerk reactions like “get on with it'” or  “quit feeling sorry for yourself” dismiss what is happening. A tortured mind, often complete with body sensation memories,  is temporarily overwhelmed.  To treat this like an attitude problem undercuts healing.

Mention there is no danger. If their pet is nearby, bring it over. Draw attention to what his or her five senses are experiencing in the present. Disburse any hovering  crowd. Keep your words and tone gentle, calm, and positive.

Later, after this person feels more grounded and less fearful, offer to help him or her give it to God by briefly praying together.  Say, “You are not alone.”  Never suggest they are failing somehow.

Compassionate love meets people where they are in the moment.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12: 15 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*b/w butterfly by XYMONAU ;  yellow butterfly by CLIOVON, both on rgbstock.com

*not their real names